What’s In Store For The Data Center Industry In 2023?

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We are coming off 2022—a year in which the world grew its insatiable appetite for the benefits derived from a digitized, automated lifestyle. Not only Gen-Y and Gen-Z but now Gen-X and boomers embraced “boomer tech.” This activity resulted in the truly incredible pace of data center construction capacity built out at the core and the edge with sustainability in mind. Digital design tools covering the entire lifecycle emerged to help reduce risk and improve the speed and efficiency of new data center construction and retrofitting in 2022.

This year, I believe we will see more flexibility in cloud computing, faster speeds and higher capacity networks and data centers, as well as data centers moving more power backup and generation onsite with a vision of becoming regenerative. Let’s take a closer look at some hot topics that I predict will shape the future of the data center industry.

Cloud Computing and 5G

We will enjoy more multi-experiences

More personalized applications will be a very hot topic in 2023. As higher capacity and edge data centers proliferate and 5G and Wi-Fi 6 become more interoperable, a much more personalized experience is achievable. I predict we will start seeing a more seamless user experience, with one application migrating across a variety of digital touchpoints: PCs, tablets, phones, automobiles and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) headsets.

A computer will pass the Turing test

As often defined, the “Turing test is a method of inquiry in artificial intelligence (AI) for determining whether or not a computer is capable of thinking like a human being” to the point where responses from computers and humans are indistinguishable. Computers already have the critical thinking required but lack the capacity for imagination and human emotions—but they are getting close, and 2023 could be the year.

There will be an ever-increasing need for speed

Data flows to and through data centers will likely be faster and at higher capacity in the coming year. Mid-band 5G and Wi-Fi 6 being deployed will boost network capacity. High-def video, AR/VR/XR and AI-enabled applications will now have the capability to send magnitudes more data for processing and storage to edge and core data centers. In core data centers, we will see 100G optics as the baseline for data center fabric (all of the compute and storage elements inside the data center are networked together with fiber called the “fabric”). And 400G optics will start replacing 100G in 2023, enabling much faster data flow through the data center itself.

AI and Cloud Computing

Cloud computing will open up

Cloud-native applications and storage are made to be portable so they can be run on multiple clouds at the same time or moved from cloud to cloud to avoid vendor lock-in and potentially save costs. Cloud-native storage is flexible as well and can offer scalability, high availability, security, resiliency and, of course, vendor neutrality.

It will be the year of power uncertainty

Power instability is top of mind for almost all data center operators in 2023 after a perfect storm of conditions affected what was previously an extremely stable and reliable grid. Data center operators are adding resiliency to their backup systems with an increasing focus on hours or days of backup. Equally important to the hardware is the software that controls the collective solutions.

Sustainability understanding ramps up

Significant progress has been made in standardizing the metrics used for reporting energy, emissions, water, waste and biodiversity. I predict this standardization will continue and go a long way toward ramping up sustainability understanding and reporting in 2023. I believe the data center industry as a whole is light years ahead of other industries in sustainability understanding and reporting.  However, for the laggards, there is newly released data center-specific material designed to greatly reduce the learning curve. For the advanced, new guidance is available to clarify complex scenarios and provide guidance on measurement and management.

This is a truly special time in history

Technology is transforming the way we work, play, learn, communicate, get medical attention, travel and generate and transmit power, and data centers are behind-the-scenes enablers of this transition.

Welcome, 2023—I can’t wait to see what happens!

This article was previously published in Forbes.

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